Russell, John, RA

Evangelical artist, son of the mayor of Guildford, born on 29 March 1745. He was converted in 1764 under Martin Madan's preaching. He was well known for his fervent evangelism and the Countess of Huntingdon tried unsuccessfully to persuade him to become a minister. A talented and productive portrait artist (often working in pastels), he depicted evangelical leaders (George Whitefield, Lady Huntingdon, the Wesleys, William Wilberforce and others) as well as aristocracy and gentry.His portrait of John Wesley survives only as an engraving. He was a particular friend of the Wesleys and painted a number of portraits of Charles Wesley's family. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1788 and became 'painter to the King and Prince of Wales' in 1790. He was also an amateur astronomer who invented an apparatus for lunar observation and made a lunar map. He died of typhus at Hull on 20 April 1806.

  • George C. Williamson, John Russell RA (1894)
  • I.C. Rhodes, John Russell RA (Guildford, 1986)
  • WHS Proceedings, 25 pp.52-56; 47 pp.190-91; 55 pp.252-58
  • Oxford DNB
  • Antje Steinhofel, 'John Russell (1745-1806) and the Impact of Evangelicalism and Natural Theology on Artistic Practice' (PhD, Leicester, 2005)